Every caregiving journey is filled with ups and downs. Nevertheless, fulfilling the care needs of an aging loved one is an immensely rewarding experience. While caregiving comes with satisfaction, it can also lead to burnout. Here’s what caregivers should know.
What is caregiver burnout?
Caregivers enter a physically and emotionally demanding role. The individual providing continual care to a senior, sometimes up to 40 hours a week, is taxed to the max. The duration of caregiving can last indefinitely, causing the emotional impacts to snowball over time.
Sadness and feeling disheartened can set it when, despite the caregiver’s consistent efforts, the health of the aging care recipient fails to improve. Even after years or decades of providing care, the senior may gradually deteriorate, leaving the caregiver with a sense of helplessness.
Stress is inevitable for long-term caregivers. When this stress is unaddressed, the caregiver begins to feel overwhelmed by symptoms of burnout. Emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion are classic symptoms of caregiver burnout. The caregiver’s positive attitude is replaced with negativity and apathy.
Why is caregiver burnout harmful?
When a caregiver experiences burnout, the care recipient suffers. An exhausted caregiver who snaps at minor irritations creates a negative atmosphere that can be detrimental to the senior. A positive and caring attitude is far more beneficial to the aging individual.
The care recipient is not the only one to suffer the harsh consequences of burnout. The caregiver, too, is overcome by them, oftentimes feeling like a failure whose resources have been completely consumed. The excessive demand on the caregiver uses up her store of energy and strength.
As a result, the caregiver may fail to look after her own needs. Exercising to maintain physical health and fitness goes to the wayside. The caregiver skips doctors’ appointments in order to supervise a vulnerable care recipient. A lack of self-care is detrimental to the caregiver’s health and wellness.
What are symptoms of burnout?
A neglect in self-care activities combined with the strenuous demands of caregiving lead to a range of symptoms. Burnout manifests as depression, withdrawal, lower self-esteem, and feelings of hopelessness. Physical symptoms include fatigue, weight loss or weight gain, and sleep disorders.
It is common for caregivers to feel guilty when they take time for themselves. In an effort to avoid feelings of guilt, they withdraw from friends, family, and other loved ones. A caregiver who is burned out may even have feelings of wanting to hurt herself or the care recipient.
How is caregiver burnout prevented?
A caregiver who knows her limits is less likely to fall victim to burnout. It is important for caregivers to honestly assess their caregiving situation and accept the possibility of burnout. Upon entering the caregiver role, develop a plan for self-care activities and ask for help.
- Delegate Tasks
Some caregiving tasks can be delegated to reduce the overwhelming workload on the caregiver. Neighbors might mow the lawn once a week or a spouse can cook meals on weekends. By developing and relying on a support network, caregivers are less likely to succumb to symptoms of burnout.
- Learn About the Illness
Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are progressive. Caregivers should learn as much as possible about their care recipient’s illness. The more the caregiver understands, the more effective their care will be. Acknowledge that specialized care, like memory care, may be expected in the future.
- Practice Self-Care
Invest in self-care activities. Caregivers are encouraged to make time to exercise, eat nutritiously, and enjoy quality sleep each night. A healthy, well-rested caregiver is an effective caregiver. Make plans to spend time with friends and family to maintain important social ties.
- Embrace Feelings
Accept that negative feelings, like guilt, frustration, and anger, will arise during the extended course of caregiving. These feelings toward care responsibilities or the care recipient are normal and do not mean that a caregiver is a bad person or an ineffective caregiver.
- Utilize Support
Caregivers should not go at it alone. Joining a support group for caregivers opens the door to greater understanding and compassion for themselves and their care recipient. Group members share tips and advice, helping other caregivers manage stress, locate resources, and reduce feelings of isolation.
Additional forms of support include day centers for seniors. Activities at a day center are designed to keep aging people engaged in a safe environment. They enjoy numerous opportunities throughout the day to socialize and stay active. The caregiver has a chance to make time for self-care.
Respite care from a home care agency is another resource for caregivers. Professional caregivers arrive at the home to pick up care responsibilities where the family caregiver leaves off. Care thereby proceeds without interruption. Caregivers take these few hours or days to relax and recuperate.
Families interested in non-medical home health care for an elderly loved one have plenty of options at Assisting Hands Home Care. Our reputable agency supports the daily needs of seniors. Professional caregivers help aging care recipients with all the activities of daily living in the comfort of home.
Typical responsibilities our caregivers undertake include medication reminders, light housekeeping, and grocery shopping. We prepare nutritious meals and ensure the senior stays hydrated. Our care services include safe transportation around the community, such as to doctors’ appointments or senior centers.
We are also an invaluable source of companionship. Our friendly caregivers engage seniors socially by initiating conversations, playing board games or cards, and taking them on supervised outings. Regular socialization deters the loneliness and isolation elderly individuals are vulnerable to feeling.
Home care services should be integrated into a family caregiver’s care plan. Assisting Hands Home Care offers flexible care options, such as respite care, live-in care, 24-hour care, and post-surgical care. Using our respite care services can significantly decrease a family caregiver’s likelihood of burnout.
When you and your elderly loved one are ready for extra support at home, choose Assisting Hands Home Care. Our home care is an important resource for families and seniors living in Collegeville, King of Prussia, Limerick, Norristown, West Norriton, Pennsylvania, and the surrounding communities. Call us at (610) 795-2896 to schedule your free in-home consult today.